Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend 2007

Another successful Memorial Day weekend in Wellfleet draws to a close. The beaches were full of people sunbathing, like this happy crowd at Lecount Hollow. The restaurants did steady business. Here at Chez Sven, we had three lovely sets of guests and turned away many more. It seems everyone wanted to get away to Cape Cod to enjoy the beautiful weather. In the garden, the irises are out, as is the wisteria. The Persian lilac brims with blossoms. I spent a lot of time planting flowers for summer bouquets. Here at Chez Sven, we put garden flowers in every room: fresh flowers make such a difference!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Traffic & Whydah Film Production

The Sagamore flyover seems to be helping the traffic situation in what was the first major test of the new faster-access lanes to Cape Cod. (The old rotary was removed over the winter. Local traffic now flows below the “flyover.”) The other news out here in Wellfleet this Memorial Day weekend is the filming of the live documentary about the Whydah pirate ship. A policewoman was guarding the access to the end of the Lecount Hollow parking lot. Behind a tall wire fence, beachgoers see strobe lights, satellite dishes, trailers, porta-potties and what looks like an outdoor wedding tent. The people inside the enclosure seem very busy as they rush about their jobs. Some pace while on cellphones. Others point here and there, obviously managerial types. Most of the crew seem to have taken refuge in the tent. The sinking of the Whydah has fascinated locals and visitors alike for years. There is even a museum on the pier in Provincetown. What with the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, no wonder the Brits are making a live documentary here in Wellfleet!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pre-Memorial Day Phone Conversation

Feels like summer. It's 90 degrees outside. The parking lot at town hall is filling up as more and more visitors arrive for the weekend. Ditto for the beach parking lots. Lecount Hollow was full of cars and media equipment. Sven and I went down to check it out and put our feet in the water. Surprisingly enough, there was no breeze and the beach was hot, even at 4 p.m. Then it was back to the grind, preparing for guests and answering phone calls. The following conversation has repeated itself with slight variations about a dozen times so far today. Phone rings. I rush downstairs from upstairs, where I am making beds, to answer the phone ...

“Chez Sven! Hello?”

“Oh, hi. I was wondering if you had a room available for tomorrow night?”

“Ah, we are fully booked. It is Memorial Day weekend, and we have been booked for weeks. We also have a three-night minimum on holiday weekends, as do most bed & breakfasts in town.”

“I only need one night. We have a rental that starts Sunday. An elderly aunt was supposed to book a room but she forgot.”

“I suggest you call the Chamber of Commerce.”

“I’m calling from New York. Do you have any other suggestions?”

“You could try the Inn at Duck Creek. They have 27 rooms.”

(I provide phone numbers.)

“Oh, thank you, thank you! You have been so helpful!”

“Good luck! Try us again some other time ….”

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spring, at Wellfleet's Dyer Pond

Chez Sven is within easy walking distance of Dyer Pond. My children used to love swimming there in the 1970s and 1980s. The pond was relatively secret back then. Oh, natives knew about its beauty. And summer folk always made the trek through the woods to its shore. More and more people learned of Dyer Pond's existence. Then, a few years ago, some New York Times Travel reporter had the bright idea of sharing the secret with the world. Dyer Pond is deserted no more. In summer, busloads of tourists …. No, no. Just kidding. Buses could not access Dyer Pond over Forrest Lane, too narrow and bumpy!

Spring, at Dyer Pond, is a wonderful season. There are only three houses on the pond and all are still empty. Here is a spot worthy of verbal coverage by Robert Finch on Cape and Islands NPR. Nature with a capital N is happening here. Tiny leaves and ferns unfold. Turtles come out to sunbathe. Wild birds pause to take in the silence ... If you are looking for peace, come enjoy Wellfleet's Dyer Pond in its spring glory. You'll be glad you did …

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Morning Update on Lecount Hollow Beach

Last night the phone rang at 10:10. Now, one way to displease an innkeeper right off the bat is to call after bedtime … Since I get up early to make breakfast for guests, as innkeepers are wont to do, I also do not stay up all night. What’s more, yesterday I had taken a long morning walk at Lecount Hollow. Sven and I usually walk in the afternoon, so it was a joy to see the sunshine sparkling off the waves. I noticed that the strange beach formation, reported last week, has disappeared.What with the incredible weather yesterday, the view was amazing. Even the cliffs along the beach were a festival for the eyes. Today a film crew from England takes possession of the parking lot for the live documentary about the Whydah, which sank in 1717.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wet Days in Wellfleet!

After weeks of beautiful weather, the rains came. It is pouring outside. The water is good for the garden but means fewer guests on Cape Cod. We had two couples considering Liberty Coin Suite earlier in the week. The weather must have helped them make up their minds because I did not hear back. Seagull Cottage is booked, however. It is always nice to hunker down inside and watch a DVD in front of a cozy fire! Our guests do not seem at all put out by the rain, enjoying a weekend away from the kids. Once the showers do let up, a walk on the beach can be a dramatic experience when cloaked in mist. Sven & I have been many times and recommend it.

And now a special word to our regular readers. You will be interested to know that Cape Cod View magazine will feature Wellfleet Chezsven Blog in its CLICK column this July. I am thrilled. Any regulars who would like to share their fondness for the blog with other car-owners, please let me know by email. I will be glad to drop a bumper sticker in the mail pronto.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

When the Innkeeper is Out ....

An innkeeper cannot always be near the phone or email. It has happened recently that I received an email message from future guests professing to be "green people." When I eagerly tried to answer them regarding availability, I discovered the email address they had left me was not working. I tried six times, all in vain. Today I received a phone call from someone named "Jim." I returned the call and reached a message machine belonging to "Sarah." Jim and Sarah may be trying to reserve a room at Chez Sven together, but Sarah's message machine made it clear that I was reaching a work number. Hopefully all this will soon be cleared up. The reason I am putting this information in the blog is to make clear that I always, always return calls and emails, even when we have no availability. Should you try to reach me and I fail to respond, please try again! Here is our Studio, with the awesome purple tulips in flower in front of the main house.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lecount Hollow In the News

The April 2007 nor’easter damaged the coast, creating
an island off Chatham. The power of the waves is still evident at Lecount Hollow here in Wellfleet. The beach no longer slopes down to the sea from the parking lot. Instead, there is a trough along the edge of the dune, which fills up with water at high tide. Should this formation remain, children will have a fine time this summer with their own wading and swimming pool heated by the sun. Sven had told me about the formation but seeing is believing. The beach does look quite strange. We were out walking today, since my knee feels better. First off, beachgoers must cross over to this enormous sandbar. Then, as you walk and look back towards the parking lot, there is water where there used to be sand. The far side of the sandbar slopes steeply down to the water’s edge. Memorial Day weekend the end of the parking lot will be occupied by a TV/film crew from England who already obtained permission from the Selectmen to film a live documentary about the Whydah. The ship sank off Wellfleet in 1717 and has its own museum in Provincetown. The filming will take five days. The beach probably did not have the trough when the pirate ship went down, but who cares? In the photo to the right, early sunbathers enjoy Lecount Hollow's new look.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mac's Shack Spices Up the Waterfront

For Mother’s Day, Sven took me to eat at Mac’s Shack on Commercial Street, open for business since last Thursday. Alex Hay greeted us at the door beside a most impressive new edifice, a copper-lined bar. Inside the restaurant, copper-covered tables and real chairs have replaced the benches and picnic tables that were one last reminder of the interior of the Bayside Lobster Hutt. The menu has been updated, too. Mac’s continues to offer a wide variety of dishes, but the Thai-influence has become more prominent. Customers can also order from a separate sushi menu. My seared tofu with green mango was exquisite and reasonable priced. Alex explained that the mango is julienned on site. Details of full prep for an evening meal require seven pages. Staff members rise at the crack of dawn to accomplish all that needs to be done. Sven enjoyed his pan-fried flounder with its almond crust. Real flowers decorated our table. Some lucky diners can even eat outside, weather permitting, because the one drawback of Mac’s Shack remains the noise. It is a pleasure to observe what Mac and Alex Hay have been able to accomplish over the years, giving the Lower Cape two excellent restaurants and three fish markets. Tracy Harmon Hay was even in with Bella and Lilly, who sat enjoying French fries with Ketchup, also available. A great way to celebrate Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Building Boom!

Visitors to Wellfleet this spring will notice several major changes to the landscape as they drive down Route 6. First, on the right, the Consider the Lilies garden center has disappeared. In its place stands a large white and green structure that belongs to Shepley Lumber and will become the number one destination for contractors on the Lower Cape. Here busy workers are shingling the darling shack that has been erected in the yard. Proceed a bit further, and WHAT's new Julie Harris Stage, which has most of its marble siding in place now, rises to your left, beside the post office building. Keep going down the road and through the traffic light direction P-town, past Seamen’s Bank and up the incline to the next intersection. The corner lot, which used to contain the Yum Yum Tree, then Gutsy Benders’, is empty except for three trees, which have been saved through someone’s forethought. This is the site of Wellfleet’s new fire station.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Innkeeping = One Tough Profession in Retirement

Anyone who is deciding on innkeeping as a part-time profession in retirement should reconsider. Innkeepers do not put their feet up and rest. There is always something to do. Running a bed & breakfast without help is a considerable task and not for the faint of heart. Today Sven and I cleaned two guestrooms thoroughly. He then cut the grass while I weeded the garden. “I’m a little fed up on cleaning one day after the other,” Sven grumbled. I feel a bit the same way. I know we should not complain. Chez Sven has been full all week, unusual at this time of the year. The leaves on the Japanese maple beside the Studio unfurled overnight. Our cottage guests arrived all smiles. Warm weather puts everyone in a holiday state of mind.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A May Day in the Life

The beautiful weather this week has been a just reward for guests who chose our green bed & breakfast in May. We had honeymooners in the cottage, who spent a full day at the beach. Sven helped me wash sheets since more guests arrive this evening. The sheets hang out in the yard now, billowing in the breeze. I have been so busy with the manuscript for my book, based on my other blog, By Bea’s Bedside, that I must admit I have fallen behind. A glance out my window shows the grass is too long, the garden needs mulch, and the flagstone access to Seagull Cottage must be reconfigured. Sick with stomach flu, I answer emails and phone calls from bed and turn away a party of three, by mistake! I wander into the kitchen for a cup of Rishi organic tangerine botanicals, an herb tea discovered when cottage guests left a canister last fall, perfect for our bed & breakfast. What’s more, Sven and I have personal guests this week. Elin and Alex (above with Sven) live in New York City. She is from Sweden, and was a former student of Sven’s at the Lyceé International. It has been fun showing them Wellfleet. Sven took them for a walk, and Elin actually swam in Dyer Pond. Tonight they are going to Moby Dick's, already open for business. As for me, I'm going back to bed!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Charlie Jordan Leaves Wellfleet Marketplace

I wrote about Charlie Jordan in this blog last summer. Wellfleet's singing butcher became so famous that a fan painted his portrait, which used to hang on the wall beside the meat cooler. Now I am very sorry to announce that Charlie is no longer working at Wellfleet Marketplace. Anyone who regrets this circumstance as much as I do can write the owner to express distress. I just did:

May 7, 2007

Dear Marshall Smith,

This letter is to let you know a grave error has been committed. Whoever made the decision to let Charlie Jordan go should reconsider. For 32 years, Jordan has been the main attraction at Wellfleet’s grocery store. When I went in this week and noticed the spanking new meat counter, full of cellophane-wrapped meats, I asked someone where Charlie was. I had been shopping less this winter and, when I didn't see him behind the meat counter, I always thought I happened to be in the store on his day off. A young woman told me the sad news. Don’t you realize the value of having a singing butcher from Scotland like Charlie? My mother bought steak from him for the last third of her life. He was always ready with a smile or a kind word. The meat he sold was fresh, and wrapped in paper before her eyes. Now the back of your store has become a wasteland. I shudder to walk down the aisles. I hate to think what your summer customers are going to say. A boycott might even be in the offing. I am quite sure your business will suffer without one. The young fellow selling fish told me three times more fish than meat has been sold since Charlie disappeared.

I run a bed & breakfast and used to tell guests Wellfleet Marketplace was one of the main sights in our quaint little town, with Charlie performing behind the meat counter six days out of seven in the summer. Well, I cannot say that anymore, can I? I do not think I will even recommend the store now. Instead, I will suggest stopping in Orleans on the way to Wellfleet or at the deli in Eastham, which is far less expensive, too.

Wellfleet Marketplace may have cleaner floors than Lema’s ever did, you may stock organic food and sell books, but your shop has lost its soul. What a shame!

Alexandra Grabbe

Friday, May 04, 2007

More Raves for Seagull Cottage

Our cottage guests lumbered in from New York City, blinking in the bright sunshine of the afternoon yesterday, happy to have three days rest away from bustle and noise. They came with bikes and lots of energy. I greeted them outside and we walked into Seagull Cottage together.
“Wow!” said the man. “This is amazing! It is even more beautiful than in the photos!”
“Look!” squealed his girlfriend. “A real kitchen!”
“We will definitely recommend this place,” the man added as we sat down for my ten-minute everything-you-need-to-know-about-Wellfleet speech.
Sven and I especially enjoy experiencing strangers’ discovery of Seagull Cottage, called “a hidden treasure” by one 2004 guest. It is, in fact, our former home, which is why the place is so incredibly cozy. We love having guests who find us online themselves and have studied all the pages of the Web site. Advertising can prove expensive for small businesses like ours. In fact, it is hard to know where to advertise. Next week we will have an ad on and hope it will generate June business. There is still one full week available for Seagull Cottage and Liberty Coin Suite is only half booked. It is a slow process figuring out which sites produce the most hits. As it turns out, many Internet searches actually originate from recommendations. I can tell because people simply Google Chez Sven. Word-of-mouth must spread news of our green policies and hospitality. We are delighted!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wellfleet, Cape Cod's #1 Holiday Destination

Wellfleet is a great place for a holiday. May means June is right around the corner, with summer waiting in the wings. If you do not yet have accommodation, Seagull Cottage has one week in June left – 10-16. Thanks to the availability calendar on our Web site, it is possible for guests to tell at a glance whether staying at our green bed & breakfast is an option. Why spend a week in Wellfleet? It is the most beautiful town on Cape Cod. The Atlantic Ocean can be totally mesmerizing, as the photo to the right suggests. Our charming former fishing village is located only two hours from Logan Airport. With four beaches on the ocean, and three on the bay, summer visitors have ample opportunity to enjoy the sun and surf. The photo at the top shows Duck Harbor, where the colors shimmer, a reminder that Cape Cod light has always attracted artists to Provincetown, twenty minutes away by car. One of the best things about Wellfleet is the variety of marvelous vistas to discover. Here a young lady surveys one of our beaches from a parking lot. Over at the harbor, tourists can watch shellfishermen at low tide, as they collect oysters out on the flats. Those oysters are on the menu in all of the town’s restaurants. Wellfleet is also known for its art galleries. On Saturday evenings, visitors can stroll from gallery to gallery, participating in openings, or explore the weather-shingled shops in search of the perfect souvenir to take home. Spend a day at the flea market, held in the parking lot of one of the last real drive-in movie theatres in America. Wellfleet even offers Wednesday night square dancing on the pier, a finger-snapping experience children will never forget. May also means the garden centers will soon brim with flowers. I already purchased this basket of pansies for Seagull Cottage. Couldn’t resist! Flowers make all the difference.